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European Union leaders appear to have struck a deal Thursday to keep the Greek economy afloat, but they failed to agree on raising all the money themselves and admitted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would have to be called in to help.
Portugal's Prime Minister Jose Socrates announced the deal in comments to journalists while the summit meeting was still going on. He said the agreement would involve a "substantial contribution" from the IMF but the majority of the money for Greece would come from the other 15 members of the eurozone. An official statement from the meeting was expected later.
The bailout plan won't come into action immediately, but is ready to kick in if Greece fails in efforts to raise money on the markets to keep its debt-ridden public finances afloat.
According to a draft obtained by GlobalPost, no figures are included in the plan, but EU officials have suggested that Greece could receive up to 22 billion euros in loans from the IMF and eurozone nations. The plan is based on a compromise reached on the margins of the summit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who had earlier clashed about the need to bring in the IMF.
EU members have been squabbling for months about how to ensure Greece does not default on its debts, an eventuality which they feared could spread financial instability around the whole eurozone. Germany had resisted an EU-only solution knowing that as the EU's biggest economy it would have to pay the most. France feared appealing to the IMF for a bailout would undermine confidence in the European currency union.
Greece has run up a budget deficit of over 12 percent of its GDP, four times the limit set by eurozone membership rules. The Socialist government, which won power late last year, has introduced a package of austerity measures designed to bring the deficit to 8.7 percent this year.
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